Word of the Day: cerumen
As many a geek knows, Sept. 22 is the birthdate of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. In honor of that auspicious day, I have a story which borrows liberally from the Lord of the Rings, and from a realization that today’s word, which isn’t one of the most obscure words I’ve used, has a very story-worthy homophone (For those of you who have forgotten what a homophone is, it is a word which is pronounced the same as another word, but has a different meaning or spelling).
Many of you might recognize this word, and then wonder, what could possibly be the homophone for…
And so, Gandalf and his companions made their way up to the Pinnacle of Orthanc, where dwelt Saruman the White.
“Saruman may have been defeated, but he is still dangerous. Beware his voice!”
Silently each pondered the nature of the wizard’s advice as they continued up the long passage way. All too soon, it seemed to the party, they had come to the door, and now it was time to enter and face the enemy inside.
“So, Gandalf. You come again. Have you not yet caused enough suffering? You have no friends in the West. Shouldn’t you be meddling in the affairs of the little people? Indeed, it is your way to meddle in the affairs of every business, whether it concerns you or not. And, it seems today your business is to torment me in my own house.”
“Silence, Sarumen! Your place on the Council is forfeit. I have no patience for your lies. Once, you were great, Saruman, but now you will surrender your staff. You no longer merit it.”
“Merit? Merit! You stand in my house as invaders and thieves, and yet you speak of merit! I had once thought, Gandalf the Gray, that you were more noble than all those of our order, that you were one of the great. Now you show your true color! You are no greater than Radagast the Brown, Radagast the bird tamer! Show now your color to
Sudoriferous the Blue! He will not aid you now. Nor will your deeds avoid the wrath of my apprentice, Cerumen the Yellow! You know his power to corrupt the words you speak within your listener’s ear!”
“Then he follows well his master’s talent for deception. I will take your staff, Saruman. Behold! I am the White Rider!”
And as he revealed his face to Saruman, a flash flew from Gandalf’s staff, and his eyes grew small and menacing. Suddenly, from across the room, Sarumen’s staff leapt up, and landed in Gandalf’s waiting hand.
Saruman, (the homophone of today’s word) is, of course, one of the bad guys in the Lord of Rings trilogy. And, of course, this isn’t quite the scene Tolkien created. I tried to be faithful to his style, and still throw in my own brand of randomness. I always wanted to know about all the other wizards, so I made a few up, to go with the
story. Sudoriferous, of course, means “producing or conveying sweat,” which matches well with cerumen.
Of course, I didn’t actually do a very good job of clarifying the meaning of the word in the story. I apologize. I figured the word had a fair chance of being previously known by a high percentage of my readers, who are well-read and have exceptional vocabularies.
Yes, I’ll stop typing now.
cerumen / seh-RUE-man / Ear wax. Cerumen is thought to repel insects. Of course, I’m pretty sure it is fairly repellant to people, too. Most of you probably remembered this one from some biology class.